Personalities I Admire: Hammurabi in His Code of Laws

Personalities I Admire: Hammurabi in His Code of Laws

Hasan Yahya, former professor of Comparative sociology

In part of the Arab Manifesto Project

In previous articles under this series: a reminder for readers is in order  to read in my books or on the internet. “Personalities I Admire” is a series I wrote so far, on the following personalities: Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); Sayf bin The Yazan, Alexander the Great, Ibn Sina, Taha Hussein, Al Mutanabbi, Abul Alaa al Maarri, Khadijah bint Khuailed (ra), Huda Shaarawi, Joan of Arc, Rosa Parks, Ghada al Samman, Naji al Ali, Gubran Khalil Jubran, Omar al Shereef, Jane Fonda, Edward Said, Plato, Socrates, Bertrand Russell, Dante, al Ghazali, al Farabi, Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Khaled bin al Waleed, Tariq bin Ziyad, Mahatma Gandhi, al Mansour of Baghdad,  Solomon Asch, Watson and Stanley Milgram,National Heroes of Norway, “Che” Guevara,  Alfred Bernhard Nobel, Ahmad ibn Majid, Ibn Khaldun, Darwin, Imam al Hussein bin Ali (The Martyr of Karbala) (ra), Malcolm X,  Martin Luther King, and  many othe personalities I don’t recall in this moment. In this article we present a great personality fulfilling the role of a just ruler, with supremacy of laws. Hammurabi, the Babylonian.

At the preface of the Code of Laws, Hammurabi describes his role as a ruler, he says:

“When Marduk (God’s name of the time) sent me to rule over men, to give the protection حماية of right to the land, I did right and righteousness, and brought about the well-being of the oppressed.”

Hammurabi the King: At the end of the code of laws, Hammurabi declares that he is the rightful king to establish order and perform justice to achieve well-being of his subjects especially those who have been oppressed by powerful and wealthy subjects. He defines himself as:

“Hammurabi is a ruler who is as a father to his subjects, who holds the words of Marduk in reverence, who has achieved conquest for Marduk over the north and south, who rejects the heart of Marduk, his lord, who has bestowed benefits for ever and ever on his subjects, and has established order in the land.”

The prologue or introduction to the list of laws is very enlightening. Hammurabi states that he wants “to make justice visible in the land, to destroy the wicked person and the evil-doer, that the strong might not injure the weak.” The laws themselves support this compassionate claim, and protect widows, orphans and others from being harmed or exploited.

Hammurabi’s laws covered the subjects of, Religion, Military, service, Trade, Slavery and The duties of workers. Before we describe his laws, let’s give a brief biography to the man-king.

The most famous law  reads: “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” This phrase, along with the idea of written laws, goes back to ancient Mesopotamian culture that prospered long before the Bible was written or the civilizations of the Greeks or Romans flowered.

“An eye for an eye …” is a paraphrase of Hammurabi’s Code, a collection of 282 laws inscribed on an upright stone pillar.

The phrase “an eye for an eye” represents what many people view as a harsh sense of justice based on revenge. But, the entire code is much more complex than that one phrase. The code distinguishes among punishments for wealthy or noble persons, lower-class persons or commoners, and slaves.

Hammurabi was anAkkadian from Amorite known as “the kinsman is a healer”, (died c. 1750 BC) was the sixth king of Babylon from 1792 BC to 1750 BC, and ruled for 42 years. He became the first king of the Babylonian Empire following the abdication of his father, Sin-Muballit extending Babylon’s control over Mesopotamia by winning a series of wars against neighboring kingdoms. Although his empire controlled all of Mesopotamia at the time of his death, his successors were unable to maintain his empire.

When he began ruling the city-state of Babylon, he had control of no more than 50 square miles of territory. As he conquered other city-states and his empire grew, he saw the need to unify the various groups he controlled.

Hammurabi in his codes of law, was the first written codes of law in recorded history.  These laws were inscribed on stone tablets standing over eight feet tall (2.4 meters), found in Persia in 1901. Owing to his reputation in modern times celebrating his role, as an ancient law-giver, just king, many government buildings throughout the world. show Hammurabi’s portrait in their yards. The Code of Hammurabi is the longest surviving text from the Old Babylonian period  as an early example of a fundamental law regulating a government. A primitive form of what is now known as a constitution.

Some of the codes are for example,

249. If any one hire an ox, and God strike it that it die, the man who hired it shall swear by God and be considered guiltless.

273. If any one hire a day laborer, he shall pay him from the New Year until the fifth month (April to August, when days are long and the work hard) six gerahs in money per day; from the sixth month to the end of the year he shall give him five gerahs per day.

And the last of laws reads:

282. If a slave say to his master: “You are not my master,” if they convict him his master shall cut off his ear.

To know the complete set of sode of laws, please go to this site.  or


  • Arnold, Bill      T. (2005). Who Were the Babylonians?. Brill Publishers. ISBN      90-04-13071-3. OCLC 225281611.
  • Beck, Roger      B.; Linda Black, Larry S. Krieger, Phillip C. Naylor, Dahia Ibo Shabaka,      (1999). World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL:      McDougal Littell. ISBN 0-395-87274-X. OCLC 39762695
  • Breasted,      James Henry (2003). Ancient Time or a History of the Early World, Part      1. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-4946-3. OCLC 69651827 .
  • Davies, W. W.      (January 2003). Codes of Hammurabi and Moses. Kessinger Publishing.      ISBN 0-7661-3124-6. OCLC 227972329
  • DeBlois, Lukas      (1997). An Introduction to the Ancient World. Routledge. ISBN      0-415-12773-4. OCLC 231710353 .
  • Van De      Mieroop, Marc (2005). King Hammurabi of Babylon: A Biography. Blackwell      Publishing. ISBN 1-4051-2660-4. OCLC 255676990.
  • Yahya, Hasan      A. Personalities I Admire, forthcoming book script, (expected      september, 2012)
  • Yahya, Hasan      A.. Muhammad (pbuh) Rasul al Bashariyyah, (The Prophet of      Humanity), Arabic,ISBN:      1453760369

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About Arab American Encyclopedia-USA - Hasan Yahya

HASAN YAHYA was born at a small village called Majdal-YaFa (Majdal Sadiq) in Mandate Palestine (1944). He migrated as a refugee to Mes-ha, a village east of Kufr Qasim, west of Nablus (in the West Bank), then moved with his family to Zarka, 25 km north of Amman – Jordan. He finished the high school at Zarka Secondary School, 1963. He was appointed as a teacher in the same year. Studied Law first at Damascus University, then B.A from Lebanon University in Arabic literature and Eastern Cultures (1975). He moved to Kuwait. Where he got married in 1967. He was working at Kuwait Television, taught at bilingual School, and Kuwait University. In 1982, Hasan left to the United States to continue his education at Michigan State University. He got the Master Degree in 1983, the Ph.D degree in 1988 in Education (Psychology of Administration ). In 1991, He obtained his post degree in Social research, the result was a second Ph.D degree in Comparative sociology-Social Psychology. He was the only Arab student who enrolled ever to pursue two simultaneous Ph.D programs from Michigan State University and fulfill their requirements perfectly. Professor Yahya employment history began as a supervisor of a joint project to rehabilitate Youth (inmates out of prison) by Michigan State University and Intermediate School Districts. Worked also as a Teacher Assistant and lecturer in the same university. He was offered a position at Lansing Community College as well as Jackson Community College where he was assistant professor, then associate professor, then full professor (1991-2006). He taught Sociology, psychology, education, criminology and research methods. He supervised 19 Master and Ph.D candidates on various personal, economic psychological and social development topics. Professor Yahya published Hundreds (1000 Plus on this site) of articles and research reports in local, regional, and international journals. His interest covers local, regional and global conflicts. He also authored, translated, edited and published over 280 plus books in several languages, in almost all fields especial education, sociology and psychology. These books can be found on Amazon and Kindle. He also, was a visiting professor at Eastern Michigan University to give Research Methods and Conflict Management courses. Prof. Yahya accepted an offer to join Zayed University Faculty Team in 1998, then he served as the Head of Education and Psychology Department at Ajman University of Science and Technology 2001-04. Dr. Yahya established several institutes in Diaspora, the Arab American Encyclopedia, Ihyaa al Turath al Arabi Project, (Revival of Arab Heritage in Diaspora.Recently he was nominated for honorary committee member for the Union of Arab and Muslim Writers in America. He was affiliated with sociological associations and was a member of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) at USA. Social Activities and Community Participation: Dr. Yahya was a national figure on Diversity and Islamic Issues in the United States, with special attention to Race Relations and Psychology of Assimilation (generations 1,2 &3). He was invited as a public speaker to many TV shows and interviews in many countries. His philosophy includes enhancing knowledge to appreciate the others, and to compromise with others in order to live peacefully with others. This philosophy was the backgrounds of his theory, called “ Theory C. of Conflict Management”. And developed later to a Science of Cultural Normalization under the title: “Crescentology. The results of such theory will lead to world peace depends on a global Knowledge, Understanding, appreciation, and Compromising (KUAC)” Recently Prof. Yahya started "Publish your book FREE Project", to serve young Arab Writers. Dr. Yahya accepted the offer to be the chief editor of the International Humanities Studies Journal -I-H-S-Jerusalem, since July 2014. (Revised Sept. 2014) ولد الدكتور حسن عبدالقادر يحيى في مجدل يابا من أعمال يافا – فلسطين عام 1944. تلقى علومه الابتدائية في مدرسة بديا الأميرية في الضفة الغربية أيام احتوائها ضمن المملكة الأدردنية الهاشمية وتخرج في جامعة بيروت حاملاً الإجازة في اللغة العربية وآدابها، ودبلوم التأهيل التربوي من كلية القديس يوسف بلبنان، ودبلوم الدراسات العليا (الماجستير) ودكتوراة في الإدارة التربوية من جامعة ولاية ميشيغان بالولايات المتحدة عام 1988، وشهادة الدكتوراه في علم الاجتماع المقارن من الجامعة نفسها عام 1991. عمل في التدريس والصحافة الأدبية. أديب وشاعر وقاص ، ,كما عمل في تلفزيون الكويت الرسمي كمعد ومنسق برامج ثم اتجه إلى الكتابة والتأليف في علوم كثيرة تخص علمي النفس والاجتماع والتنمية البشرية ، والتغير الاجتماعي والسكان وألف ونشر العديد من المقالات (1000 +) والكتب باللغتين العربية والإنجليزية (أكثر من 330 كتابا) ، منها ست مجموعات قصصية وست كتب للأطفال ، وأربع دواوين شعرية باللغتين أيضا. وعدد من كتب التراث في الشعر والأدب والأخلاق الإسلامية والتربية والأديان . وهو الآن أستاذ متقاعد في جامعة ولاية ميشيغان. . وكان عضوا سابقا في جمعية العلماء المسلمين في أمريكا . وجمعية علماء الاجتماع الأمريكية - ميشيغان، وهو مؤسس الموسوعة العربية الأمريكية في الولايات المتحدة ضمن مشروع إحياء التراث العربي في بلاد المهجرز كما تم ترشيحه مؤخرا ليكون عضو مجلس التحرير لمجلة الدراسات الإنسانية العالمية. وقد قبل أن يتسلم رئاسة تحريرها اعتبارا من نهاية يونيو 2014 His email: Thank you!
This entry was posted in Arab Affairs, Arab American Encyclopedia, Crescentology, Dryahyatv, Global Affairs, Hasan Yahya حسن يحيى, Ibn Khaldun ابن خلدون،, Islam & Muslim Affairs, Philosophy & Logic. Bookmark the permalink.

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